BELOW THE BOTTOM BUNG 89
aggressor rather than an example to the aggressed; and that in
order to have peace you must organize, you must be strong, and
that you must be prepared to use force.
Mutatis mutandi$,th&t is precisely what Ambedkar meant about
the untouchables. He wanted them to be organized and he wanted
them to be strong. He rightly considered that the best way of
gaining his object was by granting them separate electorates ; a
solid block of 60 million would be in a position to dictate terms
to its oppressors.
Gandhi fiercely opposed this scheme. 'Give the untouchables
separate electorates/ he cried, Łand you only perpetuate their
status for all time/ It was a queer argument, and those who were
not bemused by the Mahatma's charm considered it a phoney one.
They suspected that Gandhi was a little afraid that 60 million
untouchables might join up with the 100 million Muslims—(as
they nearly did)—and challenge the dictatorship of the 180
million orthodox Hindus. When such irreverent criticisms were
made to him, Gandhi resorted to his usual tactics ; he began, a fast
unto death. (As if that altered the situation by a comma, or
proved anything but his own obstinacy !) There was a frenzy of
excitement, ending in a compromise on the seventh day of the
last. The untouchables still vote in the same constituencies as the
caste Hindus, but a substantial number of seats- are now reserved
for them in the provincial legislatures. It is better than nothing,
but it is not nearly so good as it would have been if Gandhi had
That is what Dr. Ambedkar meant. And I think that he was
" What of the future?
It depends very largely on the British. If we knuckle under to
Congress demands, the state of the untouchables will remain
either stationary or deteriorate. And it cannot be too often
emphasized that even if it remains stationary it will still ba quite